Summer in a Bowl: Creamy Tomato Soup

Is there anything more versatile than tomato soup? From rustic Italian pappa al Pomodoro to chilled Spanish gazpacho to supermarket-smooth Campbells, there are literally hundreds of different recipes out there. And I love them all (well, most of them).

My favourite tomato soup, though, has got to be a little closer to the Campbells variety (if I can say that without losing my food-blogger cred). Not quite so smooth, no, and not quite so creamy either, but sweet and simple and puréed almost to oblivion. Served with a grilled cheese sandwich or just some bread and butter, it’s pretty much summer in a bowl.

This recipe is pretty close to that ideal, though I admit that it’s somewhat counterintuitive as a summer soup. It uses canned tomatoes instead of the fresh stuff that’s just starting to appear on the market. But since there was no market here last week (that pesky marathon again), I made do with what I had. Besides, a sprinkling of fresh basil and the tart creaminess of crème Fraiche are enough to convince you that it’s summertime you’re tasting, not matter the actual time of year.

And that, my friends, is versatility.


Creamy Tomato Soup

adapted from Mark Bittman

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 small one, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup crème Fraiche
  • 1 tsp. sugar (optional)
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  1. Heat the olive oil and butter together in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, herbs, tomato paste, and carrots and stir well. Cover and cook gently for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the onions are translucent and the carrots tender, add the stock and the chopped tomatoes. Cover and continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the soup from the heat and add the crème Fraiche. Purée until smooth using an immersion blender, then taste. Add sugar, salt and/or pepper as needed. Finally, stir in the chopped basil and serve.
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